We Who Wait on the Lord

As the end of the year draws closer, news headlines of the year are featured, and I think back feeling they were from more than a year ago.  During the Edo Period, the common people would listen to Joya no Kane (bells ringing out the old year) and talk about “Shichimi Go-etsu San-e.”  Family members would rejoice that the year has been a good one if one had 7 delicious food, 5 happy moments and 3 wonderful encounters with someone during the year.  This is quite a stylish way of spending the end of the year.  Smartphones have become an element of our lives these days, so it might be worthwhile looking at stored photos on our phones.  Unfortunate things and disasters can happen in any year.  However, by retracing one’s memory little by little, we may be led to realize that there were happy and thankful moments.  Similarly, if people can look to the past from the future, the new year, for sure, may be welcomed peacefully.  

“It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.”  (Lamentations 3:26)

Everyone knows waiting on God is not easy.  The Divine Providence is vast and boundless.  When unacceptable happenings occur while waiting on God, we may be torn between conflicting emotions suspecting the salvation of God and losing control of ourselves and even our belief.  The book of Isaiah is going to be read during the Christmas service. 

Although it was more than 700 years before the birth of our Savior, it is said as if it has already happened.  “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.”  (Isaiah 9:6) Since the birth of Christ is the Word of God and the will of God, Isaiah took it as an event that has, for sure, already happened.  Waiting for the Savior is not just waiting for something uncertain.  The true Savior appears to those who earnestly trust in God without any agitation towards the length of the wait.

Abram went as the Lord had told him.  He was not able to obtain land easily nor was there any sign of him begetting an heir.   To him, the sound of the dry desert wind might have sounded as if “that cannot possibly be.”

However, Abram looked at the stars afar, the light in darkness and continued to hold belief in God.   At the beginning of the Christmas Story, the Gospel of Luke depicts Mary who was confused by the angel’s words.  “How will this be…?”  Mary realized that God’s greatest promise was the birth of the Savior, the Lord himself, and she came to wait on the Lord.  We also wait on our Lord. 

“But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what they already have?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”  (Romans 8:24b-25)  

The Christmas preparations are starting.  We wait with joy for that is the definite happiness.  The Savior will come into this world among us.  Let us spend the season of Advent trusting salvation, love, and forgiveness which God had already started.

Revd Matthew Naomichi Yano
Karuizawa Shaw Memorial Church

On the Other Side of the Voice

There is an opportunity for me to talk to the bride and groom during the orientation held before the wedding ceremony.  I still get nervous until the time the couple arrives.  Through the wedding application form that is provided beforehand, I try to picture the two of them as to who and how they are.  However, that often leads to a stretching of imagination with inaccurate information.  Wedding photographers say they do not want any kind of image or information regarding the couple before the photograph shooting because they prefer to take pictures just the way the two or the family is.  I want to follow that same style, but I tend to think about unnecessary information prior to meeting the couple.  Nevertheless, it is the two who are more nervous than me.

With both of our tension unwinding little by little, and by the end of the wedding rehearsal, I feel relieved to see the happy faces on the couple knowing that they have taken a step forward in their wedding preparation.  I had felt a similar kind of nervousness when I used to go and talk to the patients at hospitals.  Previously, I would visit the hospital rooms almost everyday praying that the patients are not suffering from repeated pain or exhausted from their rehabilitation therapies.  Even if I had visited the patients upon hearing their conditions from the nurse practitioner or had estimated the right timing for visitation, patients would repeatedly refuse to see me, and I would be down about it.  There would be times when I would end up walking past the hospital rooms for not wanting to disturb any meetings or wake up the patients.  I would come to myself with a question thrown at me such as “Are you the chaplain in the hospital?”  Even now, it suddenly occurs to me after the ceremony when the groom says, “My gratitude to the chaplain and all the staff” and then I am made to realize that the groom is talking about me.

I am reminded again at the meaning of my being there in that very moment.  When Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew15:21), a Canaanite woman cries out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  To the woman’s voice wanting to have her daughter healed, Jesus answers with words full of racism and harassment such as “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” and “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs” to turn down her request.  Maybe society was like this in those times.  However, it is the same sad words that I told myself that those were the reasons.  Jesus too was tired, and he might have stashed it away to himself.  The walk of Jesus, was that of solemnness, far greater than that of ours.  His teachings were not understood, and he was not even trusted by his family in his own homeplace of Nazareth.  Is that why he came far out to Jerusalem where there are no lost sheep and in no need of a shepherd?  However, that is when the woman calls out to him, “Lord, Son of David.”  With Jesus as the Savior in this world and people crying out to him, it is likely that Jesus was seeking a long time for this cry.  However, far more than those voices calling for him, Jesus was calling out to us.  Jesus too was calling for us.  In order to have Jesus be our Lord, I want to continue calling for him by saying, “Yes it is, our Lord.”  Jesus is there on the other side waiting for us.

Rev. Matthew Naomichi Yano